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on September 27, 2010
I just happened to buy this book at the airport yesterday before a 4 hour flight. I recognized O'Rourke's name, picked it up, read a couple of paragraphs and decided to plop down the $25 cover price. I had every intention of reading it later in the week, as I was too tired and needed to nap on the plane. Well, I couldn't put it down! I read the entire book! He is witty, incredibly intelligent and even charming in his criticism of our political system and the state of disarray it's in. I may start referring to this as "the new Libertarian manifesto!" Read the chapter on Global Climate Change (where O'Rourke challenges you to go tell 1.2 billion Chinese people that they can't have a car, old stove or fireplace because we think it might be causing the Earth to get warmer) and, if you're anything like me, you'll be hooked!
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on February 23, 2011
Having been a PJ O'Rourke fan since his National Lampoon days, I remain amazed by his ability to make one laugh while making one think. We'd be hard pressed to identify another living American writer whose best one-liners are so widely quoted.

Don't Vote is maddening because it flops back and forth between great and... well, not so great. It contains both some of O'Rourke's most scholarly work - there's a lot of real research here - without sacrificing the wit. In these chapters, his work is sharp, illuminating and still an entertaining read. But Don't Vote also contains a bunch of one-offs that are really nothing more than reprints of some of his magazine articles, and not his best ones at that. These contribute no understanding, don't move the central thesis about government ahead and are really just filler (or worse).

Not bad, but not great. Parliament of Whores is still my favorite O'Rourke rant.
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on October 3, 2010
It was a good purchase, well worth reading.

American politics are dominated by news bites and slices of incomplete information and people that vote often lack a basic understanding of economic principles or in my opinion much logic. P.J. O'Rourke writes a line about what is wrong with politics, half the voters are less than average intelligence.

Using sarcasm and lots of analogies, he writes short examples of why certain political issues are often carried to absurdity, states like California with strict gun laws have lots of murders while those with very lax laws don't, for example, and also that we should probably have vote control because voting leads to politicians taking us into war which leads for far more deaths caused by guns.

He writes about the futility of much of the left and right ranting (radio, books, etc.) because it's like preaching to the little old ladies wearing white hats in the choir.

I enjoyed how he worded the observation that we allow 19 year old's to vote, but we don't trust them with a beer.

Just because he uses lots of tongue-in-cheek humor, sarcasm, and analogies that could be seen as over the top in there usage, he is obviously a well read and well informed and well connected person and his writing is crisp and straight forward. Much of the chapters read like part of a conversation with a neighbor over a beer while bar-b-cuing some burgers. Good old fashioned complaining about how stupid so much of the American political scene is, was, and will be for the foreseeable future.

He points out that taxes make Republicans, logic makes libertarians and having children makes conservatives. It's interesting in my own observations, and I think that he writes a bit about this too, is that people tend to live their own lives as they see fit (libertarianism at its core) but that they often want to force others to do things for their own good.

I think both lefties and righties could gain something from a thoughtful reading of this book, certainly libertarians would enjoy it, although, his own words about preaching to the choir ring partially true here.

There is a great bit of discussion in this book directed at our current mess and the administration in the White House, I found is critique spot on. There is a lot in here about economics and the national debt and spending, perhaps this is is the most important discussion in any political discussion these days, one that is over looked or soft footed about. It is far too important a discussion to dismiss, and should be required knowledge before one is allowed to vote. Good luck with that wish, of course.

I give this book a strong recommendation before this upcoming election or any in the future for that matter.
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on October 2, 2010
P.J. O'Rourke's Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government was one of the books that most influenced my political upbringing. It was a book that explained why American politics was so incredibly messed up, and was relentless in making fun of that fact. Even though it's almost 20 years old, it's still a classic, and well worth reading.

Well, P.J. O'Rourke's at it again. He's written a virtual sequel to Parliament of Whores that shows that in the intervening 18 years American politics has managed to become even more screwed up. And there's no one better suited to lampooning the state of American politics than P.J. O'Rourke.

But what separates this book from the many other books of political satire is that O'Rourke isn't just a bomb-throwing satirist. When, just a few pages in, O'Rourke is name-checking Michael Oakeshott, you know you're reading the work of an author who's done his homework. This book is a satire, to be sure, but it's an intelligent and thoughtful satire. This book manages to mix Oakeshott, Adam Smith, and a schoolgirl's game of "Kill, F@#$, Marry" into a devastating and intelligent critique of American politics. O'Rourke's takes on everything from health care reform to the national debt, and manages to skewer these hot-button political issues without coming across as preachy or pedantic.

O'Rourke is America's best political satirist - because he's America's most well-read and intelligent political satirist. This book, like Parliament of Whores, is destined to be a classic that will still be readable and worthwhile in 20 years -- while other political satires have long since been sent to the remainder bin.

And the Kindle edition is reasonably priced too, which makes this a must-download for this election cycle and long after.
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on October 3, 2010
For my money Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government is a great satire of politics, and should be required reading for US high school students as a civics text. At least the reader can laugh and also learn a few things. In that book, among other things P.J. explains what really happened with the savings & loan crisis in the 80s, and also wraps up with a meditation on why government is morally wrong.

Don't Vote is not in the same league but is still good for learning and laughs. The book is a collection of short topical essays, which can be read in any order. The climate change chapter (which consists of one page) is a brilliant, succinct reality check on the human condition. There is a bit of recycling from prior works, but at least the author admits it in the preface. So you have been warned.

And the largely libertarian author equally skewers both Republicans and Democrats for the current sad state of politics, and also offers a few simple pointers for improving our lot. Read and enjoy!
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on March 9, 2013
As we are in the midst of a Presidential election and the campaign mud-slinging is in full force, I was in the mood for some humor injected into the political realm. I was first introduced to P.J. O’Rourke while working for his lecture agency, and for years I have enjoyed reading his books and columns.

Don’t Vote is a collection of chapters dealing with the issues of the 2010 election and O’Rourke’s leanings have changed slightly from libertarian to leaning Republican. Some of the chapters are rehashes of previous columns altering the means to make his points. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. It’s not his best work, but there were times when I truly appreciated his humor. He talks about becoming a father and how his anything goes political stances of the past have changed now that he has children.

“I have lost all my First Amendment principles about rap songs lyrics. I am infuriated by them. Because I cannot understand a word that hip-hop musicians say. For all I know what’s spewing out of their mouths is ‘We need a single-payer national health care system,’ or ‘Home mortgage interest tax deductions subsidize the urban sprawl, increase the burden on transportation infrastructure, and lead to greater production of greenhouse gases.’”

Thanks for the comic relief, P.J. We could all use a little of that while we’re dodging campaign telephone calls!
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on December 31, 2010
In reading Mr. O'Rourke's book Don't Vote..., I found myself chuckling at the many commentaries on the issues of the day. Make no mistake, this book is not for all readers who are easily offended at vulgarity; however, Mr. O'Rourke makes it clear in his preface "Apologia Pro !%@& Sua" that he chose his words to express his disgust in the current political machinations of today. Having done political work for a spell, I can see his viewpoint as politics is a game of bribes and payoffs nowadays. Still he said that the politics we have is the best that we could do, for the alternative would be arbitrary law, a point that he makes with Will Rogers-like precision.

His book is strictly commentary with a table of contents, but no index and bibliography; a fact that is line with the rest of his books.

Two parts of the book stand out in my opinion. One was the fact that the conservatives blew their political capital that they built up over the last 28 years only to become the bloated government hacks that they despised only a generation before. This is desrcibed in his chapter "Where the Right Went Wrong." The second part was the hilarious chapter on climate change that consisted of just three short paragraphs. In short he said that climatologists are just trolling for research grants in order to not become burger flippers and that there is nothing you could do to stop climate change unless one wants to deny the Chinese the opportunity to buy Buicks.

A fun tour-de-force, but easy on the language please. Well, darn I am one of those puritans, but I have fun...anybody for Scrabble or Stratego?
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on December 18, 2011
The man is losing his edge. I have given up on most of his recent fare, and turn to my well-worn copies of Holidays in Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels to the World's Worst Places and Asks, "What's Funny About This" (O'Rourke, P. J.),Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government, or Give War a Chance: Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind's Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice, and Alcohol-Free Beer when I need a dose of cynical humor. Lately it seems like P.J. has taken off his flak jacket and put on his smoking jacket. Quite all right for the guy to retire, only if he wants to retire, he needs to ummm...retire...
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on August 11, 2011
P.J. didn't do himself any favours with this book. What humour there is has a leaden quality; the views expressed are more reflexive crotchets and wheezes than evidence of any real consideration; the prescriptions amount too little more than a throwing up of hands and surrender to the status quo with, maybe, a bit of deckchair repositioning.

It's a bit of a pity. I've enjoyed much of his writing for decades, appreciating his ability to reduce matters to their essence without loss of meaning and to elicit hilarity along the way. This book does neither.
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on November 19, 2010
This book is great! If you are looking for a funny book about the unfunny financial crisis this is it. P.J. O'Rourke is probably the only guy who could do this. The style is typical P.J. However he zones in on certain things that will make you laugh out loud then go "Oh Yeah!".

The book is told through a Republican point of view, or more accurately a Libertarian point of view. He does frame things in a new light that I am sure Democrats will be upset over. At times P.J. does attack the sacred cows of America. Here are a few examples:

"What is a health care provider? (as mentioned in debates)A health care provider was the school nurse when I was in third grade who gave you a peppermint oil if you broke your neck on the playground. I caught Buster, my six year old playing health care provider with one of the little girls in his first grade class. They were filling out forms fully clothed."

"for the moment the killjoys are in charge"

Those are just a few examples. The laughs aren't constant but when they do you will laugh your head off out loud.
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